Tell Your Rep: Michigan needs to Act on PFAS
PFAS are a pervasive group of manufactured chemicals that have been found in Michigan's drinking water. Thus far, there are 35 confirmed PFAS sites around Michigan. According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), more than 1.5 million residents have been drinking water contaminated with PFAS and there could be as many as 11,300 potential sites where PFAS may have been used.
Lansing friends! Representative Sarah Anthony is not currently in the system. You can contact her at [email protected]
Michigan Environmental Council came up with a 13 step plan back in July to help address PFAS. In order to ensure that there is a system in place to protect human health and the environment against PFAS and other contaminants of concern, the state should enact the following policy solutions:
- Establish a drinking water standard for PFAS under the Michigan Safe Water Drinking Act by creating a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFAS that uses the best science available. Based on a CDC draft study, this would indicate 7 ppt for PFOS and 11 ppt for PFOA, but this may change with more information.
- Reassess the cleanup standard for PFAS in Part 201 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act due to the aforementioned CDC draft study and emerging health research.
- Fund and implement point-of-use filters for individual residents in impacted communities.
- Establish a grant program to add needed treatment technologies to public water systems, like granular activated carbon filtration processes.
- Fund the connections of residential homes to public water systems when PFAS are found in their wells, if this is available.
Pass HB 5898 to fund water infrastructure projects and ensure adequate revenue to address ongoing PFAS responses around the state.
- Require the DEQ to publish all test results and information gathered from other levels of government.
- Create and update a map with all known contaminated groundwater plumes in Michigan and make it available to the public.
- Investigate why a 2012 PFAS report was disregarded by the agency. It should be reported out why this happened and what steps have been taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
- Keep in place the rule in Part 201 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act that allows new cleanup standards to be set quickly for chemicals not currently regulated (which is virtually all PFAS).
- Pass SB 943 for a sustainable funding source for contaminated site remediation.
- Michigan should lead a combined effort by the states to marshal the needed political forces to make the federal government, especially the Department of Defense, fund cleanup and remediation.
- Change our laws so that they hold not only the party who caused the release of chemicals responsible, but also include any company that is aware of the dangers related to the chemicals it produces and sells, but fails to disclose them to the public.
PFAS are a family of more than 3,000 manufactured chemicals that were put into production in the 1950s. The unique properties of PFAS allowed manufacturers to create waterproof, stain resistant, and non-stick products. PFAS were used in practically everything, including carpeting, waterproof clothing, food paper wrappings, upholstery, takeout containers, furniture, some cosmetics and more. They were also used in a firefighting foam called AFFF, which branches of the armed forces and fire departments used all across the country.
Studies documenting work-related exposure to PFAS began surfacing in the 1970s and 1980s, and by the early 2000s, it became clear that PFAS were contaminating drinking water. After this, industries began to phase out the use of PFAS and production of AFFF ceased (although the remaining AFFF continues to be bought, sold and used today).
There are a number of ways a person can come in contact with PFAS, but the most common way is through drinking water. So far, researchers have only studied a handful of these chemicals for their health implications; however, preliminary research suggests that PFAS may increase thyroid disease, decrease fertility in women, cause developmental issues in infants and older children and increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They have also been linked to increased risks of kidney and testicular cancer.